There Are No “Game Changers”

You have probably noticed that for a man who couldn’t give a tinkers curse for opinion polls, I spend a lot of time thinking about them. Thanks to Hobo for the figures and to BangorDub for the link to the News Letter piece by Sam McBride….we can see that yet again an opinion poll is much ado about nothing.

Discussion Boards talk about game changers. But if we apply Sam McBrides coping that some parties are under-stated in polls while others are over-stated then we can see again…yet again …that the landscape has not changed.

With the REAL figures and FANTASY figures in brackets, what exactly can we say about a potential trend.

DUP 30.0…..(25.1  but “understated”???)….not good news for them but not devastating.

Sinn Fein 27….(21.7 but “understated”????…..the same.

SDLP 14.2 ……(18.6  but “overstated??????……..encouraging, slide certainly stopped and good for morale.

UUP 13.2…..(13.2 but overstated?????’).   Not good news except in the sense that it is not a melt down.

Alliance 7.7 …(10.2 but overstated ?????) encouraging but no breakthru on the basis of the back of the attacks on them. Sympathy has its limits.

So there is no Game Changer……Certainly not in the Flegs Dispute.

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23 Responses to There Are No “Game Changers”

  1. Hello FJH,

    Hope all is well in Texas, btw, have you been anywhere near Palestine yet? I believe it is equi-distant from Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.

    For waghat it’s worth I too do not value many opinion polls in the north and for many reasons, whether it be the questions asked (moronic and lacking) or the methodology including only interviewing 200 people pe constituency in many instances, the stats are all off and the questions are leading a d or unrealistic.

    Will email you soon!

    • I’m in San Marcos. It’s about half way between Austin and San Antonio (the Alamo)…will be there Tuesday.
      The land around here….brown grass. It will be 80 degrees today. I expected some desert…but not seen any yet.
      ctually quite a small “town” …although there is actually 60,000 people living here but most of them seem on the outskirts.

    • ardmajell55 says:

      Hi FC. The DUP/uup/tuv would love to make that mori poll officially count and not bother with the real one, but they must know the SoS won’t call one while the answer they want is the likely outcome so depriving them of a wee gloat at nats.Going off topic here, I see the DUP is taking the BCC vote to the equality commision, but what’s the motive? The EC would ,at best, cause the vote to be taken again, so is the DUP hoping the mob can be whipped up again for the rerun to better intimindate councillors this time? It’s good from a nationalist point of view they are resorting to this as it shows the world the contempt unionists have for democracy which they’ve only been tolerating all these decades while they had the upper hand, and now the toys are exiting the pram since they don’t any more.

  2. factual says:

    First off, worth pointing out that in the 2011 West Belfast by-election SDLP were down 3% to just 13% in a strongly nationalist seat despite the SDLP MLA holding the Environment Portfolio north of the border.

    I recon that SF should be able to take one or two MLA seats from SDLP next time out.

    First off South Down. SF were very close last time and should be able to take one of the SDLP’s seats here.

    Second off Foyle: SF have been growing here and are within reach of an MLA from SDLP.

    East Derry: SDLP seat looking vulnerable as SF could just take one from SDLP here. SF was very close to SDLP last time.

    Upper Bann: with better balancing from SF, SF could take Kelly’s seat.

    Finally and not least, the West Tyrone seat where SF could take one from the low-profile SDLP candidate here.

    Sinn Féin as a 32 county party have grown at election after election north of the border at SDLP’s expense and if the West Belfast by-election is anything to go by this looks set to continue

    • I’ll field this one.

      Factual, let’s go through your points one by one.

      1. West Belfast and the bye-election result for any other should be ignored especially as an outlier of any potential performance in the Assembly elections. Bye-elections are notorious for rather skewed results and due to another few factors (first past the post, it being a SF stronghold) many other voters would simply give this election a miss, everyone knew what the result would be.

      2. South Down. This is SDLP territory. Yes SF could possibly get another MLA but the SDLP is very transfer friendly amongst unionists too so this would act as a bulwark to any SF ambitions.

      3. SF in Derry MIGHT be able to pouch something but again, this is SDLP country. SF is lacking a real big hitter here like Martin or Mitchell (how I honestly love Mitchell, it’s a shame SF have sidelined him as I think he should really be front row centre for them) so with that in mind I think they will struggle unless someone comes up through the ranks and makes her or his voice heard above what the late and great Sean Holywood would call ‘the Derry Mafia’ of the SDLP.

      4. East Derry is greening at a snails pace,it could be awhile before we see much change here.

      5. Upper Bann. Dolores is pretty safe here, yes, as has been noted over on BD’s site in craigavon (my council area) the SDLP is something of a shambles but you have Banbridge in there too and the Nats there are gene pool SDLP (lotsof people from South Down whove moved closer to work in Belfast yet close to family and their family community such ad GAA clubs etc) while the Nats in Craigavon are definite gene pool SF (a lot from West and North Belfast. Craigavon is like a mini Belfast, i should know, i grew up there and my family are from West Belfast) She is from around Lurgan but she’s high profile and on the right side of many issues so she knows which way the wind is blowing and should always enough votes to see her through.

      6. You know, you may be right about West Tyrone, but a caveat must always be attached. It is so very tough to manage a turnout to gain extra sets especially when you’ve done well in a constituency. That and as it is a rural constituency it provides logistical problems of getting the vote out.

      Factual, I like how you try and rock the boat but if you’re going to a little bit of analysis with your opinions would be a great benefit to all for moving discussions along as opposed to coming across as merely stirring.

      • factual says:

        FC interesting analysis but an important factor in all of this is that Martin McGuinness could be FM instead of Peter Robinson. But for this to happen, many the seats that I mentioned have to go from SDLP to SF. Nationalists north of the border would like to have Martin McGuinness as First Minister; moreover the hard work that SF do on the ground is another factor because SDLP are poor in this regard. In Derry I think you are underrating Raymond McCartney and indeed Maeve McLaughlin. Gerry Adams has pointed out that SDLP generally trend down and SF up as older voters (SDLP) die off and younger voters (SF) come on the register so the ageing effects are at play in each successive election.

      • You know Factual, it’s not that simple. You are making a number of assumptions or fatal errors in your analysis.

        Yes, we could have Martin as FM, and that would be great, another chipping away of the Orange state etc. but in many ways it’s completely meaningless too. Sure, I’d cheer his getting the position and crow at the schadenfreude of the other side but there is not a rats arse of a difference between FM and dFM, it’s a side show argument.

        Further, you’re making the assumption that youngsters and the elderly are some kind of homogenous, monolithic groups, they’re not. Take it from me, the North is a patchwork quilt of differences. Im from North Armagh (god’s country!) yet I went to school in Newry and it’s a world of a difference there. Kids from South Armagh, mid Down (Banbridge, Rathfriland and Tullylish), South Down (Warrenpoint or Rostrevor) or up the coast (Castlewellan or Kilkeel) all at the one school, all with different backgrounds and interactions with the security forces or Protestants. To assume that this means that SF have to do nothing and will win seats from the SDLP is deluded and in a way doesn’t give SF the credit they deserve for winning the Northern Nat vote so convincingly.

        Also, while I lean towards supporting SF in lots of issues, I want the SDLP about. We need 2 voices to maximise our vote and to keep one another in check. The SDLP did a lot of heavy lifting and sacrificed a lot to get us here and SF has taken the torch and is running with it, but they have to fight for my vote and never take it for granted.

        As for your other points, in Doire I’m sure these MLAs are good but they don’t have the same media presence as Durkan or other SF reps, you can’t really deny that, can you?

      • FC…thanks for this.
        I think “factual” totally underestimates the need for two nationalist parties. having an alternative is good for both Sinn Fein and SDLP.
        I’d readily admit that in the years after 1998, SDLP got complacent.
        And since 2007 were a shambles.
        And since early 2011, have stopped the slide and there is anecdotal evidence (and I’m partisan but won’t rely on the “evidence” of opinion polls) that there is a modest recovery.
        What “Factual” doesn’t get is that SF CAN and maybe on some occasions HAS already got just a bit complacent. ….just like SDLP did.
        There are certainly committed SF voters. There are certainly committed SDLP voters.
        But I think there are a lot of nationalist voters who would not be partisan and be prepared to look at the record and intentions of both parties at the next election. It’s how it should be.

      • Agreed to a certain extent however I do see some sense in her posts too.

        Factual, polemics are fine but they’re better when you put some more analysis or figures to it.

        I really enjoy when posters put up something different from our perceived wisdom but it needs to be backed up

      • Factual, FCs analysis is interesting because its based on observation and understanding. It’s not just slogans. Too often your “analysis” is little more than posting a few slogans.
        You might well know the name “Raymond McCartney” and you might might even be right that we under-rate him. I ton the other hand think that Martin MCGuinness, Mitchell McLaughlin and indeed Martina Anderson are more high profile figures.
        And that McCartney is simply a second tier SF MLA who has been asked to step up to the plate as a leading figure because of the arrival of so many co-options. A more balanced view might be that some who have had promotion “forced upon them” like Sue Ramsey have done well. Others have not done so well. And I think I have made the point often enough that the co-options are a mixed bunch.
        I’m not sure if we have ever reached a consensus on this blog if I am right that Sinn Fein has actually and unless airily weakened their Assembly team but I think most SERIOUS analysts would say that the co-option strategy is high risk….it is already clear that some look the part and some don’t look the part. SF will obviously help those currently struggling and ruthlessly deal with those who don’t make it. But it’s not enough for you to say that SF are effortlessly going to eliminate the SDLP.
        Your over-enthusiasm weakens your own case and undermines your credibility….which is ok.
        But your persistence in only rarely attempting anything like “analysis” undermines the credibility ..such as it may have…of this blog…and that’s NOT ok.
        NOw WISE UP. If you only want to say Sinn Fein are “brilliant”, then I’d prefer if you’d say it somewhere else.
        Now let me emphasise that this is nothing to do with your OPINIONS. It is everything to do with you being INCAPABLE (mostly) of ANALYSIS.

      • factual says:

        Fundamentally, an analysis of the problem caused by the SDLP is as follows based on median voter theory.

        If SF were to add seats at the expense of the SDLP to the point where SDLP were effectively taken out of the equation then what would follow is that SF would be clear to fight on one front in the battle of ideas, the battle for votes: the Alliance/Unionist front. That would mean the median voter that nationalism fights over would be in the middle of the overall six county spectrum (rather than the middle of the nationalist spectrum), and that in turn would mean that nationalism’s resources would – instead of nationalist infighting in the battle of ideas and votes – be nationalist persuading unionist/other in the battle of ideas and votes. That is republicans to increase vote share would have to reach out, engage, and persuade at the most important margin: garnering more republican voters overall.

        Gerry Adams has stated that unionist engagement is the most important work that Sinn Féin is doing and I think many people have not taken that point on board yet. SF have to triangulate SDLP to do this.

        Furthermore a single nationalist party would have the economies of scale to scale up research expenditure in that battle of ideas.

      • OK Factual, I do see where you are going with this and in many ways it appears plausible and to a certain extent, even desirable, however, where I think that this is also folly and trying to fight the tide is in the notion that if we have all out Nat unity, a sole Nat party, that this will allow us to take on unionism and fight in the theatre of ideas if you will, I don’t see this happening and here’s why.

        i) There are Nats who will simply not vote for SF, period. It doesn’t matter what means of persuasion you or I employ they won’t go for it.

        ii) It is bad for Nationalism to have one voice representing us as we are not a single, monolithic community. Again, we have many voices and ideas and these need to be heard, debated and expressed. Whilst these ideas may be debated etc within a party it is normal for this to be done largely behind closed doors, away from the glare of the MSM and for a party to come with a untied position. This notion of one party representing our aspirations, needs and desires is simply unworkable in a multi-cultural out fit.

        iii) It will act as a break on bringing out the Nat vote. People do not want a Henry Ford like choice when they go to a booth. It’s a democracy (of sorts) and choice is to be encouraged. If I am a Nat and I only have one choice it means I don’t have a choice, I may then just stay at home.

        iv) This same argument could have been employed by the SDLP back in the 90s, that we should abandon SF and get behind the SDLP for the big win yet it was not and rightly so. It smacks of wanting to take away a democratic choice of your fellow Nats and that’s something we should avoid at all costs.

        v) In many ways, by having a competitor like the SDLP it only helps to maximise the number of Nat voters who turn up. If done correctly with transfers it should mean there is no splitting of the vote as such as there are preferences which can be allocated to Nat reps on the ticket.

      • factual says:

        When I say that it is antithetical to republicanism to posit as you do that you need SDLP “to have a choice”, it is because it seems to imply that there are two completely independent communities that cannot and do not communicate or find common cause in the forum of political persuasion.

        This framework counts up catholics (and hopes they will eventually grow in number) rather than seeks to persuade, and requires the SDLP to provide competition because – according to this way of thinking – a person is by birth positioned in the PUL community (and could not vote for other than a PUL party) or in the CNR community (and could never vote outside of parties that present themselves as CNR parties).

        This is a demographic way of thinking – in which the way to a UI is via bedroom – because there are two sets of people none of whom could ever convert in their political philosophy.

        But it is antithetical to republicanism in my opinion because it divides people rather than treating them equally. It seems unambitious as a project, as it relies on external factors principlally whether catholics increase or diminish in number.

        Better to have a single party engaging and contesting ideas broadly rather than an intra-nationalist contest.

      • Un-republican? How?

        You really think that by eliminating competition it will ‘liberate’ Nationalism, that this is Republican behavior? SF dealing with the SDLP is something it would have to do even if they no longer existed; why? Well something would need to act as a break or a challenge function to SF policies, and SF would and should welcome this, as should you.

        I have a choice re other votes, of course, BUT if we went with your desired outcome I would have only 1 Nat party up North. Aside from the constitutional question, who should I vote for if I don’t like their policies?

        Now, if you all don’t mind it is after midnight here so I will be off to bed but will continue any decent points raised early tomorrow morning here, late evening back home.

        Oiche mhaith a chairde!

      • Charlie says:

        Factual,

        Its painful reading your arguments. If you took a moment to open the curtains and go outside rather than post 200 slogans a day, you’d see that most nationalists prefer having two parties to choose. The idea that SF cannot debate with unionists because of the sdlp suggests they are not capable of very much. And as FC says, any argument you churn up every week about one nationalist party raking in the votes to be top dog could have been employed by the sdlp in the 90s.

        I doubt you’ve ever been to derry but up here people do have a lot of time for the sdlp. Even the sf voters I know speak well of the sdlp, but they have been backing a winner. After the abysmal strategic moves of sf leading to record low polling for a UI among nationalists, their honeymoon is well and truly over. Sfs vote in South down is exactly on the slide and it looks like the sdlp are threatening a unionist seat. If you took a moment to analyse this objectively from a nationalist point of you, your dream of a SF first minister is more likely if the SDLP convert all those 7th places to seats and remove some DUP MLAS.

        FJH,

        You’ve warned our friend for months now about ‘raising her game’ and we still get treated to mind numbing post after mind numbing post. How long before you and all our nationalist blockers actually say enough is enough, you’re ruining our blogs by lowering the standard of debate.

      • Charlie,
        Point taken.
        I’ve tried to be patient about her. As I’ve always said I don’t like the Blog turning into a Discussion Board.
        I have actually deleted a few posts over the past few days but its difficult because there are replies also.
        I like the way the Blog has got a range of pan nationalist opinions. They are also thought provoking.

      • factuall says:

        It is a very good blog and I enjoy the articles and discussions. I have had a good (I think worthwhile) interaction with other users today. I apologise if for some reason something I said caused disquiet, but I provided (I thought) analytical underpinnings to my arguments as requested.

      • Charlie says:

        Factual,

        I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but it’s not about just today’s comments or yesterday’s comments but you’ve been told to change the tune for months and stop insulting the intelligence of the nationalist electorate. You blatantly ignore your host’s suggestions and just keep spouting your party’s slogan and proclaiming sf are just brilliant because you say so. It comes across that you think repeating mantras will mean people eventually go along with it. If anything it has had the effect of grating with people and turning them from broad nationalist voters to sdlp voters on the basis that sinn fein supporters seem to offer no analysis just their hopes for their party and treats nationalist’s aspirations as a pure spectator sport.

        Having said all that, your opinions are fine but better if you recorded them on your own blog than writing them here as opinions here and on BD and FC’s pages generally get exchanged. In your case you don’t seem to be interested in discussion but just telling everyone how you think it should be without anything (real) to back it up

      • Look Factual, I don’t mind you around here, on BD’s site or even on my own page, I think the more the merrier and the guys and gals here do too, no one is trying to censure or silence your opinions, but I do think you can up your game a bit and this is not some underhand way of saying you need to conform to our thinking, far from it actually.

        You need only look at other threads, I’ve had some massive barneys with Sammy and have disagreed with FJH himself on matters and vice versa, it’s not some kind of echo chamber where we all agree with one another, but what we do do is try and back up what we say with rational argument and evidence.

        I do get where you’re coming from on Nat unity and it is tempting in so many ways (it was an idea I loved when I was in my late teens, early 20s tbh), however, I just think it is a non-starter for so many reasons as noted above.

        If I can give any advice and I sincerely do not wish to come across as patronising in any way, shape or form, if someone challenges you on a supposition then you need to show how their argument or point is not applicable in this instance and it needs to be done more effectively.

        I actually like how you do post some stuff that is a bit out there, it gets us all thinking and in so many ways it keeps us all on our toes, but I would ask that you stay away from the repetitive polemics and tackle any issues raised by posters and all will be well.

        Speak soon,

        FC

  3. factual says:

    Charlie and FC

    I take your points on board. Thanks for the advice.

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